Super League has blessed with some of the world’s best players and some of the finest players to grace these shores. Going into the 26th season of Super League seems as good a time as any to think about the very best players Super League has seen. So, let’s consider 10 players that could make a Super League hall of fame.
Having won 8 Grand Finals he stands as the most successful one-club man in Super League history. With 168 Super League tries he’s joint 10th on the all-time list and was the first man to win the Harry Sunderland Trophy twice in Super League. His second success is more famous as he was unanimously voted man of the match as Leeds defeated St Helens in 2011 after he scored the Grand Final’s greatest ever try. His final game saw him crowned a Super League Champion but what he has gone through since has established him as a legend of a man as well as a player. His courage whilst fighting Motor Neurone Disease is simply amazing and he should be commended for that as well as what he achieved as a player.
Alongside Burrow from day one was Danny McGuire. Right now, McGuire is the only man to break the 200 Super League tries barrier and stands as the league’s all-time leading try scorer. Like Burrow he won a record-setting 8 Grand Finals at Leeds and is the Grand Final’s most prolific try scorer scoring 8 tries in just 9 Grand Finals. The former Leeds stand-off also won a pair of Harry Sunderland Awards and delivered Leeds’ first Super League crown back in 2004 with the clinching try against Bradford. In 2017 he joined an elite group to lift the Super League trophy as captain before doing a solid job at Hull KR as his career came to an end.
Yet another man to win two Harry Sunderland Awards, Roby has been Super League’s best and most consistent player for over a decade. The St Helens captain won the Man of Steel in 2007 having won his first Super League trophy a year earlier. He went onto represent England and was constantly seen as Super League’s best hooker despite superb competition. He’s now won four Grand Finals and was skipper for the last two as the Saints claimed back-to-back titles.
The two-time Man of Steel was arguably Super League’s best player in the competition’s early years. He was superb in 1998 as Wigan dominated and won the first Grand Final and kept Wigan competing despite the growth of teams like Bradford and St Helens. He was one of the toughest players to play in Super League playing on with a broken nose back in 2004 a year that again saw him claim the Man of Steel. He deserved to win more Super League trophies but was always a class act capable of pretty much everything.
Another two-time winner of the Man of Steel, Sculthorpe arguably overtook Farrell as the league’s best player in the earlier 2000s winning the Man of Steel in back-to-back seasons in 2001 and 2002. The ex-Warrington man won three Grand Finals as a Saint and even became their captain before injury curtailed his career. A skilled player with great physical attributes he’d make it into almost any 13.
Super League’s most successful player of all-time simply had to feature. The 2003 Man of Steel is one of few men to captain a victorious Grand Final winning team as he did so in 2005 before joining the Leeds Rhinos. There he’d make further history winning 6 Grand Finals with his home town club leaving him with 9 triumphs in all. He was again nominated for the Man of Steel in 2008, 2013 and 2014 and helped Leeds win the treble in his final season in 2015. The perfect prop and perhaps the best ever in his position he’s a player we were lucky to have in Super League.
Long was a special player. He was a superb organiser but could also conjure game turning magic playing his role in the famous ‘Wide to West’ try and winning the 2002 Grand Final with a drop goal. The dynamic scrum-half won the 2000 Man of Steel as well as four Super League crowns between 1999 and 2006. He was also an esteemed talent when it came to winning the Challenge Cup winning the Lance Todd trophy in 2006 as he helped St Helens win the treble.
For me, O’Loughlin has been Wigan’s most influential player in Super League. The number 13 had a bit of everything but it was how he lifted his side that made him special always forcing his teammates to give an extra 10% which is why it was so vital that he got over injuries to feature in big games. Only one man has lifted more Super League trophies as a captain than O’Loughlin.
And that man is Kevin Sinfield. The former Leeds captain is by far and away Super League’s most successful skipper having lifted seven Super League trophies. He’s one of few men to claim both the Lance Todd and Harry Sunderland Awards winning the latter twice in 2009 and 2012. 2012 was a special year for the Rhinos legend as he was also awarded the Golden Boot as the best player in the world. At present he holds a bunch of Super League records: the most appearances, most goals and most points in Super League history. There have been no better leaders than Sinfield and few better big game players than the Leeds’ number 13.
There is little debate when it comes to Super League’s best fullback. There have been quality number 1s throughout Super League but none had the all-round game of Wellens nor his longevity. He claimed all three individual honours winning the Harry Sunderland Award in 2006, the Lance Todd in 2007 and 2008 and the Man of Steel in 2006. There has never been a better defensive fullback than the St Helens man who captained the Saints to the trophy in 2014 which was his fifth Grand Final triumph.